I have a totally indoor cat, why does it need vaccinations?

We recommend that indoor only cats receive “core” feline vaccines. This is because at some point in your cat’s life he/she may escape from your house, come in contact with a stray cat through a screened in porch, or be exposed to other cats during boarding or hospitalization.  If your cat is not current on vaccines, it will be at greater risk for contracting disease. Please see below for vaccination recommendations for a feline friends!

Rabies: This vaccine protects your dog, cat, horse, your other pets and your family. In most locations it is required by law. Rabies is a 99.99% fatal disease that can be spread to other mammals or humans that interact with an infected animal. Even if your dog or cat is indoor only, it is possible that they might slip out of the door and interact with wildlife or infected dogs or come in contact with infected animals while in their own yard. It is also not unheard of for pets to catch a bat or other animal that sneaks into your house. If your pet is bitten by an animal that has rabies and your pet does not have a current rabies vaccination they have a very high risk of contracting the fatal disease and will put anyone who handles them at risk. In most cases horses that develop rabies are bitten by an infected animal without anyone knowing until the horse develops neurological signs. In the meantime anyone handling the infected animal is at risk for contracting the disease.   

 Feline RCP vaccine: This stands for Rhinotracheitis (also known as feline herpes virus), Calici virus, and Panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper).  We commonly refer to this vaccination as the distemper and respiratory vaccination.

Feline distemper is highly fatal in cats. It is a parvo virus that causes its damage by attacking rapidly growing cells such as the intestinal tract, bone marrow, lymphatic system, and neurological system.  Kittens are the most susceptible, but adult cats can contract the virus as well. It is spread through bodily fluids and waste.  Vaccination is virtually 99% protective. This virus can live for long periods outside of the body so cats do not have to come in contact with an infected cat to develop the disease.   

Calici virus is an upper respiratory virus that causes ulcers in the mouth, throat, on the tongue, and the nasal passages that are very painful. Cats that are not vaccinated will often stop eating and even drinking because their mouth hurts so much. While vaccination does not completely prevent a cat from getting the virus, it does drastically reduces the symptoms to just cold like symptoms with a runny nose, sneezing, and congestion for a few weeks.

Rhinotracheitis (herpes virus). It is not the same strain that people get, and so is not contagious to people from cats or vice versa. It is an upper respiratory virus that settles in the nasal passages and the eyes.  Cats that are not vaccinated can get severe eye infections. In the nasal passages, if herpes virus is not minimized with expensive anti-viral medications, it can cause permanent damage to the delicate nasal tissues resulting in permanent nasal congestion and secondary infections.  This vaccination does not always prevent cats from getting herpes virus, but if they are vaccinated, it drastically minimizes their symptoms to mild cold like symptoms.  Once a cat gets herpes virus, they have it for life, but if they are kept up to date on their vaccinations, when they are first exposed, then they may only show cold like symptoms when their immune system is heavily stressed, and even then, it will go away fairly quickly, often without treatment.

Leukemia:  Leukemia is a fatal virus and believed to be the top cause of feline cancer. It is transmitted by exchanging bodily fluids such as fighting, grooming, or even drinking out of the same water bowl at the same time. Kittens are extremely susceptible to this virus. We recommend this vaccine for all kittens because you never know if they could escape from the home and come in contact with outside cats or if you will potentially bring another cat into your home in the future.

What vaccinations does my DOG need?

Dr. Close does not believe in a “one size fits all” approach to vaccination recommendations. Instead, she believes in educating pet parents about diseases that are a threat to their pet and developing a vaccination protocol that is suitable for that pet based on his/her age, geographic location, travel, and general lifestyle (boarding, living in a neighborhood vs rural etc). Please read below for information regarding the diseases for which she recommends vaccination.


DAPPv is also known as the canine distemper/ parvo combination. It is a four-way vaccine that protects against distemper, andenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Vaccination should begin at 8 weeks of age. Boosters are given every 3-4 weeks until the puppy has reached 16 weeks of age or older. After the initial series the vaccine is boosted in one year followed by boosters as an adult. 

Canine distemper is a contagious and serious viral illness with no known cure.  The virus attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) to the virus from an infected dog or wild animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months, and mother dogs can pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies. Initially, infected dogs will develop watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes. They then develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation (“chewing gum fits”), seizures, and partial or complete paralysis. The virus may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden, leading to its nickname “hard pad disease.”

Canine adenovirus type 2 is a causative agent of respiratory disease in dogs. Common clinical signs include conjunctivitis, dry hacking cough and coughing up white foam.

Canine parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Common clinical signs include fever, decreased appetite, coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy.

Canine parvovirus is probably the most recognized and feared infectious disease in dogs. It is a highly contagious pathogen that is very hardy and can remain in the environment for a very long time. Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk. Dogs that are ill from canine parvovirus infection are often said to have "parvo." The virus affects dogs' gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of feces from an infected dog may harbor the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. When living in areas with a transient population such as an apartment complex, rental house or on post you must be especially careful as you have no way of knowing the vaccination or health status of tenants that resided in the dwelling before you or what your neighbors are doing. The virus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects.

Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy; loss of appetite; abdominal pain and bloating; fever or low body temperature (hypothermia); vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. There is no specific treatment for parvovirus. Treatment is aimed at supportive care, including hydration, decreasing vomiting, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, maintaining body temperature etc. Treatment is not always successful and is often very expensive ($700-2000+ for hospitalization depending on the area where you live). Fortunately, the vaccine is very effective at preventing disease if given correctly! This means puppies start their vaccinations between 6-8 weeks of age depending on the vaccination status of their mom and receive boosters every 3 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age. They then receive a booster at one year of age. We booster adult dogs every 3 years to ensure that they continue to have complete protection.


Rabies is a fatal disease with no known treatment options. It is spread through bite wounds from infected animals. Often times the bites are not observed in species such as horses and livestock, occurring while they are out in pasture, and is only diagnosed after severe neurological signs and/or death occur. Fortunately, vaccination is nearly 100% effective and due to the potential of infected animals spreading the disease to humans the vaccine is required by law in most areas for cats and dogs. Some states also require it for horses.

BORDETELLA (Infectious Tracheobroncitis)

Bordetella is very similar to the common cold in humans with common clinical signs being coughing and nasal discharge. A small percentage of dogs can develop pneumonia, which is a potentially serious complication. Dogs may be infected directly, but Bordetella can also be transmitted through air from other dogs. The chance of your dog getting kennel cough is much higher when he or she is exposed to other dogs such as going to a dog park, shared fencelines, boarding or grooming (even if the groomer comes to your house). 


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be found in many animals, including wildlife such as squirrels, mice, skunks, raccoons, and livestock. The bacteria is passed in the urine of the infected animal and can be directly transmitted or contaminate a water source. The bacteria can penetrate damaged skin or intact mucosa (e.g. lining of the mouth). The disease causes liver and kidney failure in dogs and can be fatal. In acute cases clinical signs are non-specific and include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. With aggressive treatment some dogs will recover but may continue to shed the bacteria in the urine for months, thus putting other pets and their owners at risk. Some dogs can become infected and not demonstrate any clinical signs and become long-term carriers that chronically shed the bacteria in their urine which can put their human family and other pets at risk. Dogs and puppies initially receive two doses of vaccine spaced 3-4 weeks apart and then receive a booster every year. This vaccine used to only be recommend for dogs that lived in rural areas, but we have been seeing more and more cases in dogs that do not leave their fenced yards. This is because wildlife often come into yards, particularly at night, and can urinate without ever being spotted. Therefore, we are recommending this to most dogs. 

Rattlesnake vaccine- We have a lot of people ask us about this vaccine. We do not carry this vaccine, nor will we, because there is zero scientific data to show that it is effective. Many vets believe that it “buys the owner time” to get the dog to a vet, however in our experience this is not true at all. We see zero difference in dogs that are vaccinated vs are not vaccinated. What matters is where the bite occurred, if it was a dry bite or if venom was injected and the amount of venom injected. If you go to the manufacturer’s website you will see there is zero research data regarding safety or efficacy. Bottom line, we will not carry or give a vaccine that we know is not effective.